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The 8 Wackiest Weather Phenomena on Earth

Can these events be explained by science or is something paranormal going on?

| 4 min read

Can these events be explained by science or is something paranormal going on?

Our planet is full of beautiful and intriguing sights, but it also has some really weird and mysterious occurrences.  From ball lightning to St. Elmo’s fire — nature is quite the mad scientist. Most of these events have been explained scientifically, but there are still many people who believe them to be of paranormal origin.

1. Ball Lightning

Ball lightning

Photo credit: Joe Thomissen/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ball lightning is a very rare atmospheric electrical phenomena.  It is usually several centimeters across, but has been witnessed as large as six feet in diameter, and it lasts from seconds to minutes.  This phenomenon has not yet been explained by science and there are many people who believe that these balls of light represent spirits and ghosts.

2. Fata Morgana

Fata Morgana is an optical illusion — an unusual mirage that can give objects the appearance that they are “floating” above the surface, usually above large bodies of water.  It results from  the bending or refraction of light as it passes through layers of air with different temperatures.  Our brains interpret this light as if it were entering our eyes from a straight path, and since our brains are not able to account for this refraction the images appear to float.  In October, thousands of people in China reported seeing a floating city in the sky.  Meteorologists confirmed that this event was caused by fata morgana, but there are many people who believed they witnessed a parallel universe or a holographic image projected by the Blue Beam Project.

3. Hole-Punch Cloud

Hole-Punch Clouds

Photo credit: Beckachester/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Hole-punch clouds are circular regions of clear sky that are surrounded by clouds.  These holes are caused by airplanes passing through the clouds, triggering the cooling of air over the plane wings, which creates ice.  Since ice is heavier than water droplets it begin to fall to the Earth, and if the airplane passes at a low enough altitude it can rain or snow on the ground.  Hole-punch clouds are often mistaken for and believed to be caused by UFOs.

4. Moonbow

Lunar rainbow (moonbow) at Victoria Falls

Photo courtesy Calvin Bradshaw ( (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A moonbow is a rare natural atmospheric phenomena that occurs when light from the moon interacts with water droplets in the air through reflection and refraction.  Moonbows  often occur over a waterfall, but are very rare over land because they require particular conditions such as a full moon low in the sky, dark skies and rain falling opposite the moon.  Moonbows usually appear as white to the human eye but they do contain all the colours of a rainbow.  Many people believe luck will come your way if you witness a moonbow.

5. Raining Objects

Weird objects falling from the sky sounds almost apocalyptic, but can usually be explained by science.  Worms, frogs, and fish have all rained down from the sky at one point in time and were all caused by waterspouts that picked them up and tossed them miles from their original location.  There have been a few stories that are not as easily explained such as raw flesh hurtling to the Earth in Kentucky, USA.  One scientist, back in 1876 when the Kentucky event occurred, explained that it was probably due to a group of vultures vomiting their latest meal.

6. Snow Rollers

Snow rollers in Clarion County, PA

Photo credit: Brenda Armstrong (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomena where doughnut and hollow-tube shaped snowballs are formed as large pieces of snow are blown along the ground by wind.  There are some who believe that spirits of Abominable Snowmen create these snow rollers.

7. Sprites

A lightning sprite

Photo credit: NASA

A lightning sprite is an electrical discharge that occurs above thunderstorm clouds.  They form as a result of a positive lightning strike between the clouds and the ground and are almost always red on the top and blue on the bottom.  Sprites have been mistaken for UFOs by witnesses flying in aircraft.

8. St. Elmo’s Fire

St. Elmo’s Fire is a strange weather phenomena where there is an electrical sparking due to an imbalance of charge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field such as a thunderstorm or a volcanic eruption.  It occurs most often on ships and wings of airplanes.

Our planet is a wondrous place with many unsolved mysterious such as what causes ball lightning.  If you have witnessed or ever witness any of these events consider yourself lucky — these events are so rare and end so quickly that most of us will never see them in person.  Thankfully almost everyone has a camera these days.

You might also like: Lenticular Clouds: A UFO Phenomenon

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